NBER Working Papers by Joshua Goodman

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers

July 2015Early Math Coursework and College Readiness: Evidence from Targeted Middle School Math Acceleration
with Shaun Dougherty, Darryl Hill, Erica Litke, Lindsay C. Page: w21395
To better prepare students for college-level math and the demands of the labor market, school systems have tried to increase the rigor of students’ math coursework. The failure of universal “Algebra for All” models has led recently to more targeted approaches. We study one such approach in Wake County, North Carolina, which began using prior test scores to assign middle school students to an accelerated math track culminating in eighth grade algebra. The policy has reduced the role that income and race played in course assignment. A regression discontinuity design exploiting the eligibility threshold shows that acceleration has no clear effect on test scores but lowers middle school course grades. Acceleration does, however, raise the probability of taking and passing geometry in ninth gra...
February 2015College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion
with Michael Hurwitz, Jonathan Smith: w20996
The relatively low degree completion rate of U.S. college students has prompted debate over the extent to which the problem is attributable to the students or to their choice of colleges. Estimating the impact of initial college choice is confounded by the non-random nature of college selection. We solve this selection problem by studying the universe of SAT-takers in the state of Georgia, where minimum SAT scores required for admission to the four-year public college sector generate exogenous variation in initial college choice. Regression discontinuity estimates comparing the relatively low-skilled students just above and below this minimum threshold show that access to this sector increases enrollment in four-year colleges, largely by diverting students from two-year community colleges...
June 2014Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra
with Kalena Cortes, Takako Nomi: w20211
We study an intensive math instruction policy that assigned low-skilled 9th graders to an algebra course that doubled instructional time, altered peer composition and emphasized problem solving skills. A regression discontinuity design shows substantial positive impacts of double-dose algebra on credits earned, test scores, high school graduation and college enrollment rates. Test score effects under-predict attainment effects, highlighting the importance of long-run evaluation of such a policy. Perhaps because the intervention focused on verbal exposition of mathematical concepts, the impact was largest for students with below average reading skills, emphasizing the need to target interventions toward appropriately skilled students.

Published: Kalena E. Cortes & Joshua S. Goodman & Takako Nomi, 2015. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 108-158. citation courtesy of

Flaking Out: Student Absences and Snow Days as Disruptions of Instructional Time
Despite the fact that the average American student is absent more than two weeks out of every school year, most research on the effect of instructional time has focused not on attendance but on the length of the school day or year. Student and school fixed effects models using Massachusetts data show a strong relationship between student absences and achievement but no impact of lost instructional time due to school closures. I confirm those findings in instrumental variables models exploiting the fact that moderate snowfall induces student absences while extreme snowfall induces school closures. Prior work ignoring this non-linearity may have mis-attributed the effect of absences to such snow days. Each absence induced by bad weather reduces math achievement by 0.05 standard deviations, s...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us